Manchester United 2 Liverpool 1: Gritty Display A Sign Of The Progress Made Under Klopp

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, March 10, 2018: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp reacts during the FA Premier League match between Manchester United FC and Liverpool FC at Old Trafford. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

ONE of them, isn’t it?

Fuck it, it’s gone, in fact, I’d go so far as to say that the biggest compliment you could ever give to how good Liverpool are is how Jose Mourinho and Manchester United lined up today.

When you’ve got the manager who’s spent more than any other in the history of football lining his team up to play to the most base of instincts and, to his credit, succeeding, you know how far this Liverpool side have come under Jürgen Klopp.

Losing at Old Trafford is never nice, but as it goes, it’s something that I’ve seen happen quite often, I’ve seen us eviscerated, I’ve seen us lose to the odd goal, I’ve seen us get absolutely pumped, but never have I seen us come off the pitch feeling like I did today.

I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve seen a Liverpool team grasp for the first excuse to capitulate in that arena.

One thing I’ve never seen is a Liverpool side go two down and react with the determination and defiance that I saw today, to brush it off and have the belief that they’re good enough to do what it takes to win.

Ultimately, today, we fell short, but only by the finest of margins.

To give them credit, there is no finer side or manager in Europe at exploiting other team’s pressure points than there is Manchester United under Jose Mourinho, to forensically pick apart potential gains.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, March 10, 2018: Manchester United's manager Jose Mourinho during the FA Premier League match between Manchester United FC and Liverpool FC at Old Trafford. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

And today, the master of the dark arts prevailed.

But, curiously, I’ve never been less arsed, the defeat against Swansea felt far, far worse a defeat, where we looked like we had no answers.

Alex Ferguson once said that Manchester United were never beaten, they just ran out of time, that’s how it felt for Liverpool today.

Nerves and trepidation at Old Trafford is all too common, the expectation of the inevitable, the praying for the full-time whistle. Only this time it wasn’t the away end gnawing the nail beds, it was the Stretford End.

The relief that greeted the final whistle was the ultimate compliment, despite the result.

That Liverpool played with such self assurance, despite being given every excuse to capitulate in the most intimidating of arenas is possibly the biggest indicator of the progress we’ve made under Klopp.

It’s the kind of result that you get away with once, but if Liverpool iron out the small details, it’s one they won’t get away with again.

Fuck it, up the Reds.

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  1. Remains to be seen how gritty we are in the next game and in the CL especially if we draw them or Juventus.

  2. Could not agree more. Said at half-time it was a big test for the lads and I thought gave it a good go second half. We’ll be better for it come the CL semi-final, when we will presumably also have a ref that knows the rules.

  3. eh? we hardly had a chance, not sure we would’ve scored given another half-hour. we were average all over the pitch sadly

    • There’s truth in that, but I think the point was more the response to going 2 down, especially compared to going 2 down to City and Spurs this very season.

      We didn’t have loads of chances but we pushed them back practically all the way back to their goal line territorially. We had them rattled without ever fully clicking ourselves.

      A loss is a loss and I don’t give a toss about how much possession, how many shots or anything else. I’d trade it all for three points. I think the point the article is making is it is possible to lose while retaining a sense of optimism.

      • Yeah, fair enough. Though I get the feeling utd were pretty happy to sit on the edge of their area and boot stuff away.

        • They certainly were. I was angry about our performance in general but not about the way Utd play. It’s what Mourinho has always done and I’d have taken any old shit performance from us if it meant three points.

    • Couldn’t agree more. Fact is, regardless of how Utd play, they won the game. We were predictable. We’ve seen it a few times under Klopp in the most important games (and make no mistake, this was an important game).
      However good or bad we play, we cannot keep making school boy errors at this level. We get punished for them, big time. TAA, what a prospect, but he was petrified today, you could aee it in his body language even before the game, he got ruined. Partner that with tbe fact that Lovren just keeps on making the same mistakes! Miss timing tackles, taking up wrong positions etc…and then there’s the midfield! These are good players, but if we want to challenge for honours, they are squad players at best. How many times did you see players give tbe ball away today? It was criminal, it really was! Klopp once again showed that we can only play one way, we have to be able to win ugly, we can’t do it! I live the guy, but our squad is simply bit good enough to compete. We cannot win tbe Champuons League, we are not mentally steong enough…any bit of pressure on some of those players and they crumble. We need ti spend big in the summer. We need 2 midfielders on too if Keita, and we need anothr striker…a goal scorer. Bobby’s great when we play well, but today we had the ball flash past the 6 yard box and not a soul was in there. Solanke not scored an EPL goal and Danny Ings…well…hoping that these lads will ‘come good’ will bot brung us success. It pains me to write this, but it’s the truth!

    • Would have had some good chances if our players weren’t hauled down every time they entered the area

    • Jimmy Corkhill

      Mourinho mentioned our lack of chances triumphantly. But it’s all fine margins, for instance if Valence doesn’t handball then Mane has got a tap in, if Young doesn’t wrestle Salah he’s through and probably having a clear shot on goal, would’ve been another clear chance. If Fellaini doesn’t foul Mane he’s got clear sight of goal . On another day….

      Apart from their goals, their only clear chance was the Mata one. Apart from the obvious costly errors, I thought we were sound.

      • Fred Oldfield

        Yeah, but how many chances did they have? Can’t remember Karius actually having to make a save – can you?

  4. Hyperbeat

    No sure we were watching the same game? We will live to fight another day – a few mistakes were made and there were a some questionable refereeing. I thought we messed Henderson in midfield. Other than that we were not playing our best footy. As painfull as it is you have to applaud Man U for us not having a single proper shot on goal. Klopp and the will learn and we will come out stronger. YNWA

  5. Titus_Red

    Fair play Andy.
    Kept your frustrations at bay and gave an encouraging assessment of the Reds. More of that please when we face the one or the other setback in the future.

    I just felt one major diappointment. The reaction after the first goal we conceded. Instead of dusting it off and remaining calm, we lost our heads collectively again. Especially in our build up play. The it goes 0-2 down and we have too big a mountain to climb.
    That’s further evidence for me that we need to improve a lot mentally when we face adversity within a game, especially against big teams. Long way to go for us to become a top team, but the signs, like the fight and desire in the 2nd half, are encouraging.

  6. They let us have the ball ffs. They controlled the game throughout because of our woeful, woeful defending in the first half and the fact that our heads went. Again. Utd didn’t give us the chance to wilt because they sat back and never went for the kill in the second half. Not to mention it should have been 3-0 with Mata’s miss.

    It shows we still have a long way to go, on the pitch, because we are nowhere near as serious about winning as our talents dictate we should be. Nowhere near.

    And the reaction of many of our fans, particularly on here, show we have a long way to go off the pitch. Imagine losing at Old Trafford and not being hurt badly, and writing fluff pieces about a “gritty” second half when our opponents allowed us to have the ball and we created next to nothing, forcing their keeper into precisely zero quality saves.

    • “Imagine losing at Old Trafford and not being hurt badly.”

      I would say most fans are. It’s the worst fixture in the calendar to lose and it’s horrible every time. Utd didn’t “go for the kill”, not because they just didn’t fancy it, but because it would have been silly to give us space in behind. “Going for the kill” would have played into our hands and our two instances of poor defending had already given them an excuse not to do that.

      • Thanks Dan, for explaining why United played the way they did, which until your explanation, I was completely in the dark about.

        The point I was making, which I thought was pretty obvious, was that you can’t sit there and write about how we deserve credit for the second half because we didn’t wilt where past LFC teams have, and expect to be taken seriously, given that we were never put in a position where we could have wilted due to the tactics of the opposition (regardless of why those tactics were employed).

        • I was only talking about how Utd played because you said they didn’t go for the kill, as if to suggest they could have beaten us whenever they chose, which I disagree with.

          We were better second half and it’s alright to say that. That doesn’t make the performance alright by any means. We lost the match to a team we want to finish above. It’s shit.

          It seems like you reckon we might have wilted if they’d come at us second half, being that you don’t like the way the article gives us credit for not wilting?

          That period in which they scored two was appalling and had echoes of Lovren at Wembley, but in this theoretical in which Utd “go for the kill” second half, I don’t think we’d have wilted. I wouldn’t have been saying that six months back.

          • We have to many players who flap on the big occasion. Also JK needs to alter team and tactics against Man U and JM tactics.
            Seems like JM has JK sussed

        • we’ve lost to all the big guns this season away from home (drew with arsenal) so there defo is an issue. Leave the 2 early games aside (citeh and Spuds) because we changed our play after the opening 9 games of the season. the other games show up the defensive weaknesses.

          Klopp can be tactically naive defensively for sure, he needs the players not to make defensive mistakes. Trent keeps Rashford outside him and that first goal doesn’t happen (he may well score but it’s a totally different play). The margins are that small.

          Trouble is where was the covering play for the back line? we rarely play with one, take a look at the midfielders in that move. Can and one other just standing there watching the Lovren/Lukaku challenge even with 2 red shirts advancing in the penalty area. If the MFs retreat with urgency ie sense the danger of a flick on, then VVD can move across and help Trent out. Maybe the goal is avoided.

          This is coaching – there was no defensive thinking through out the team (bar VVD, I think he called out for Can to go to Lukaku). Klopp won’t win anything without putting some of that into the team rather than just pressing, forward play and being ready for transitions (only forwards!).

          Winning is a race of hurdles. We trip over too many of them. The only saving grace is we’re developing – the midfield is being rebuilt this summer so perhaps it’s just part of the pain we have to go through. We shall have to wait and see.

  7. No need for the sarcasm pal. Dan made a perfectly good point.
    As did you. We have to start winning these big games against teams with the nous, finances, shithousery and skullduggery like Utd. They were sharper than us throughout, even though our best footie is clearly superior to theirs. Mentally we still have three or four who are fragile under pressure and that’s three or four too many.

    Let’s hope this is a valuable lesson to us and next time Utd will pay the price

  8. Gritty??

    Some fantasy world you live in.

    • Titus_Red

      No fantasy, just reality.
      Lads came back fighting after that first-half setback. That’s all fans want to see when the chips are down.
      If there was any justice, we’d walk away with a draw, minimum. That’s the reality.

  9. Reacting well to adversity is important and it’s the positive reaction that makes me feel only slightly less gutted. As for the game, Trent for all his gifts, was the weak link today, a defender who doesn’t anticipate danger becomes prey to tactical minds like jose’s it was very clear from minute one he was the target for the mancs and we can only hope that he learns from this if he’s to become the long term success we’d like.

    The 2nd goal probably sickens me more than the first because if he doesn’t spin around as if in fear of being hit then he blocks the shot at source. Defenders have to WANT to be hit! Hit me and not the target is your role. I know we see it all the time at all levels of the game but someone should pull Trent aside and show him the goal, not in an effort to embarrass or ridicule but for his education.

    At the other end of the pitch I wish Mane would remember what his gifts are cause as much as I love the guy playmaking from deep isn’t his game. His profligacy in possession whilst trying to build the game only serves to lessen the many other talents he has that we know and love.

    Not a hugely positive message to leave but having argued and been in a bad mood with those around me since the result (sorry!) I’ve felt the need to vent some, thank you for your metaphorical ears!

  10. Listening to your views on the post match show and now reading this I’m seriously questioning if we watched the same game.
    We were shit and pretty much everyone had an off game ala Swansea. Just because we huffed and puffed around their 18 yard box, that too in phases and without even having a proper shot on target, doesn’t equate to them being rattled. They had us right where they wanted and if it had been the other way round you would have been waxing lyrical about how easy it was for our defence.
    TAA and Lovren were woeful all game and the front three were totally ineffective; Mane must have misplaced around two dozen simple passes. It doesn’t happen often but it did here. Yes of course there is progress under Klopp and I would say the vast majority of us are very happy with where we are. And we have done well enough to be able to absorb this loss without it affecting our top 4 prospects. But let’s not dress up this naive and toothless performance as a symbol of that progress because it isn’t no matter what spin you try to put on it.

    • Correct, we were poor today.

    • I thought the point of the article was that this sort of thing can happen at Old Trafford. Big game, big atmosphere, it is intimidating, especially for young kids still learning how to play right back. Sure if you want to win the league/CL then you need to be able to handle the pressure and stay on course and we didn’t do that for the first 20. But to have them penned in and praying for the final whistle by the end of the game wasn’t Mourinho’s game plan I can guarantee it, and the players deserve credit for pushing them right back to the goal line. Different ref, we get one of many strong penalty shouts and then I would back us to go on and win the game.

      • “But to have them penned in and praying for the final whistle by the end of the game wasn’t Mourinho’s game plan I can guarantee it, and the players deserve credit for pushing them right back to the goal line.”

        This I completely agree with. Think I made the same point in one of the other threads. The headlines are always the same when Mourinho pulls off a result like this, but nobody is convincing me his plan was to br clinging to dear life in the 96th minute, completely penned in and begging for the final whistle.

        It doesn’t change the fact they won of course, and if someone had offered me the chance to win in that fashion I’d have taken it, but it’s worth mentioning nonetheless. I’m not having it that they let us have the ball. How many times second half did we seem trying to push out and force us back, only for the ball to come straight back at them?

        A loss is a loss, but there are degrees and manners of defeat. Our collective response as fans should be informed by that.

    • We are not a top team. We have off days, but still could have drawn at least. That is encouraging.

  11. Got to agree with Omar K on this. Decent response but completely toothless. Real lack of intelligence and discipline in terms of positioning in the middle today. Can, Milner OX nowhere near as competent and effective as united’s midfield 3. Lots of talk of Arnolds mistake but we all know he will be a top player. Lo ten has had his day and will be gone in the summer. But our midfield does not have one player that can be considered up there with the best in the league. In 2009 we were singing about the greatest midfield in the world. And it wasn’t just because individually we had players like xabi, Masch Gerrard and momo. It was because they all played a different role from each other and were specialist midfielders. Now we have generic athletic box to box players that change on a weekly basis. Until we get a class player in the middle (hopefully Keira) it doesn’t matter how good our from 3 are. And if we do t sort the midfield out soon we will lose Sarah, Firmino and be back to square one.

    • Spot on. You can get away with no holding mid against the bottom half, but not against these.
      2 clean sheets in games against top 10 this season tells a story

    • This seems a bit desperate. Our midfield got us into the top 4 last season and deservedly into the quarter finals of the Champions League right now. Klopp looks to versatile, tenacious midfielders because that’s what his system demands – it is one of the reason our squad is so strong now. We can rotate with little diminishment and we go into the business end of the season much fitter than Chelsea and Spurs as a result.

      The mistake, I think, was playing Milner so many much in the span of just a few days. His form has been excellent, but that’s a lot to ask of his legs. In hindsight, Gomez would have been a better option, but TAA made sense with the prospect of a parked bus.

      Neither of these problems worries me overly. We lost to a good side, albeit a loathsome one, but it does not represent a worrisome trend. It seems safe to put it behind us and keep going. The last thing we should do is tear down our players (least of all teenagers).

      • Not sure why desperate. Theyre all decent players but can was nominally in the holding position but it’s not his strength. None of our midfielders are natural fits there. It’s a problem.
        Finding three players who can all do everything has to be much more difficult than finding one who can hold very well and trusting him to do that.
        Finishing 4th is fine but I think we’d all like to push on from that. Improving the midfield, as well as the keeper, would be priorities

  12. We missed Henderson because he would have been in that shit ref’s face all game. Too many of our players are still too nice.

  13. Eamonn Dullaghan

    Shoulda worn the orange kit!

  14. I didn’t enjoy the game. Not just because of the result because of the performance. United deserved the win. Thry scored two goals thst exploited out vulnerabilities on the day. Lovren and TAA and they completely and utterly snuffed out salah. We looked a bit better second half but at no point did we really look like scoring I don’t take anything positive from this result but it’s becoming painfully predictable how our games against United will go. United play streetwise football against us. I really wish we would start doing the same.

    • Agreed, back to the drawing board for us in these types of games. Our midfield was not good enough. Gini and Henderson would have helped to get some drive and control in midfield.

  15. Oxford Street Maternity

    Agree with the noted improvement. Losing to long balls and defensive error is a recurring theme. Pressing alone is not enough in this league. Saurez proved that and Salah isn’t here to prove it again. The Chelsea game is now massive, but thankfully we are owed a couple of pens (from this game and Newcastle) to compensate for bad refereeing decisions.

  16. A word about the kit. That black and white kit is like a bad luck charm at top six grounds this season. Don’t think we’ve won at any top six ground wearing it this season. At Wembley, 1:4 ,at Etihad 0:5, at Emirates 3:3. On the other hand our orange kit saw us score 7 twice and 5 once in the CL. Why weren’t we wearing it, we should have known we would need all the help we could get at Old Trafford.

    • Agree, I didn’t like it when I saw it on them yesterday. Don’t know if we can just chop and change kits though or if there’s a rule that says we have to wear our first away kit in the Premier League when there’s a clash with the opposition.

  17. Fuck all to do with the kit. Wore red at Wembley and red at the Etihad

  18. Great article Andy. as always a defeat brings out those who think this is the time hold your nerve and see the big picture progress with Klopp and the doom mongers who will write off the team as flops, weak, lacking leaders. The sort of supporter who thinks demanding the best performance every game from the stands or the iPad somehow overcomes the fact that it is a sporting contest, a fight, often with fine margins, where a slice of luck can be decisive. Yeh let.s just all indulge ourselves in a huge spiral of negativity, ignore all the positives, and let the players know how shit we think they all are. Too many of that brand of supporter and Klopp would rightly think fuck this Anfield self entitled crowd , I,m off. The spark wasn’t quite there yesterday but I saw a team that kept going to the end, a United Team pretty much playing for the corner flag for the last 30 mis. It’s work in progress with a Klopp, but I prefer our squad and direction of travel to what I see at Man U and there have not been many times over past 25 years I have been able to say that. That is entirely down to Klopp.

    • Correct, the progress is obvious. However we are still entitled to be massively disappointed by the performance and result yesterday and to express that here. Loads of possession but not a lot of penetration. It’s called an opinion, doesn’t mean anyone who expresses a critical view about how we played is “engaging in a huge spiral of negativity”. We are not, at least I am not, however I can’t deny that it gets me down to lose to them. Anyone but them. Call it irrational – and uncalled for – but I hate them with a passion, have hated them for as long as I followed football, when they won nothing but FA Cups and were still the media darlings for the old days of Best, Law and Charlton and all that. For their horrible black socks and their crappy Red Devils logo, for Brian Robson, Norman Whiteside and bloody Jesper Olsen. Having Mourinho as their manager just tops it off for me. I can’t help it, I detest them and always will. Wish I’d never watched the game, as I can’t stand to lose to them.

      Feel a bit better now I got that off my chest, but will take a few days…

    • Spot on. Agree with this and the comment below.

      Top teams lose football matches, especially against other strong sides. Even City had to dog it out a bit at Old Trafford and they are pretty much at the peak of their powers.

    • Fred Oldfield

      Couldn’t agree more mate. I’m with you 100%. It was 2-1 to them, not 6-1. We are still a developing team and the progress this season is surely obvious. Oh, and they have spent about twice as much money on players as we have..

  19. It would be churlish to say that I’m not arsed about losing, but as has been said quite a few times in the comments I’ve read, the manner it which they came back to try and force the draw was admirable and cause for optimism going forwards. The front players, as good as they are, are going to have off days and yesterday was one of them. The fact that heads didn’t go down and they kept trying to move forward has to be applauded, even if the outcome and the overall performance wasn’t the one we wanted.

    I’ve seen enough non-performances at OT over the years that have left me feeling nothing but empty. This did feel different and the fact I’m sooo pissed off only serves to highlight that by the end we were close to snatching something.

    Come on you reds.

  20. Addicted2Football

    This article discusses the history of Liverpool playing away at OT and says it’s rare to feel as optimistic after a loss.

    I would suggest that is as much down to how rubbish Utd are now to how they’ve been historically in the PL. Only in the last few years have we had the pleasure of viewing OT as anything other than a fortress.

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